Celebrating a Centenary of transatlantic Flight

Cadets from around south east London and north west Kent were on parade on Tuesday 23 July 2019 when His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent KG visited the London Borough of Bexley as part of the Alcock and Brown centenary celebrations.

Cadets from around south east London and north west Kent were on parade on Tuesday 23 July 2019 when His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent KG visited the London Borough of Bexley as part of the Alcock and Brown centenary celebrations.

In June 1919, John Alcock and Arthur Brown made the first-ever non-stop trans-Atlantic flight in a Vickers Vimy; originally designed and built in the Vickers Factory, at Crayford. They returned to celebrate their achievement at the re-opening of The Princesses Theatre by the then Duke of York, who later became King George VI.

The Duke of Kent’s visit coincided with the 100-year anniversary of Alcock and Brown’s visit to Crayford on 23 July 1919, and during his visit the Duke officially unveiled a magnificent new Alcock and Brown sculpture bench in the town centre designed by artist Tony Stallard. He also visited Hall Place & Gardens, where he had the opportunity to view the Alcock & Brown exhibition and see a scale model of the aircraft they had flown. Whilst at the gardens he also took the opportunity to plant a tree in the gardens close to where his mother, Her Royal Highness Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent CI, planted a tree in 1952.

The Duke of Kent is here pictured with The Mayor of the London Borough of Bexley Councillor Geraldine Lucia-Hennis

Cadet flight sergeants Ellysha Franklin & Francis Bussey, who are the Deputy Lieutenant’s cadets for the London Borough of Bexley for 2018 & 2019 respectively were privileged to join the Deputy Lieutenant of the London Borough of Bexley, Major Dave Hewer OBE TD in formally welcoming the Duke of Kent from his car as he arrived. Ellyhsa said ‘It was a wonderful day, and amazing to be a part of something so historic and relevant’.

Flt Lt Cottier is pictured speaking to the Duke of Kent.
Flt Lt Cottier is pictured speaking to the Duke.

The cadets themselves formed a guard of honour, held the coverings for and assisted the Duke of Kent in unveiling the Alcock & Brown sculpture.  Flt Lt Kris Cottier, unit commander of 358 (Welling) Squadron was introduced to the Duke at the Hall Place reception where the Duke questioned him about flying and other opportunities the cadets have the chance to undertake. Kris stated ‘The Duke was very interested in the work we do within the Air Cadets, and he was very impressed that so many of the cadets had taken the day off school to join in the commemorations given the really hot weather. The cadets excelled as usual and they were a credit to the London Borough of Bexley and to the RAF Air Cadets’.